My father used to say that if you only used a tool for what it was made for, then you didn’t understand the tool. Now this doesn’t mean he was suggesting that I use a sledgehammer to hang a picture or a crowbar to plant flowers, but rather that there were possibilities beyond the initial design. 

One only need watch any of the numerous cake-decorating competitions of which my wife is fond to realize that reciprocating saws can be used (in a roundabout way) to make edible food displays. And when you think about it, what is a mixer except a really specialized drill?

Still, some things lend themselves more easily to “additional” uses than others. One of these tools — and something we might not even consider a tool as such — is the glove. Whether latex or leather, nitrile or cotton, or any strange combination of materials, the glove is designed to protect your hands while working. In food preparation and medical applications, they are also designed to limit the spread of germs and aid in keeping the “workplace” sanitary. So, let’s give a big round of applause to the most multifunctional tool since duct tape. And as an added bonus, most are even “one size fits all” as well.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that gloves aren’t specialized in their versatility. There are driving gloves and winter gloves, the historic metal gauntlets used by knights to bash their way through Hollywood epics, and the long white opera gloves used, I suppose, to more delicately “bash” the wearer’s way through coarser cultural offerings while holding gilded binoculars and gazing down from what in any other venue would be considered the “nose-bleed” section. There are even gloves designed to be worn while treating said “nose-bleed”, and in a related health application, there are also the stylized fingerless gloves worn by weightlifters and Instagram fitness models — who, by the way, are weightlifters as well.

I became a fan of these fingerless gloves, not because I had Instagram aspirations, but because on occasion I have been known to pick up a weight or two. The palms (where the bar rests) are padded, and the fingerless design allows for a better grip, making even the stylized versions effective. But it wasn’t long after purchasing the first (non-pink or bedazzled) pair that I realized these gloves would be quite useful for other jobs as well. And remembering my months-long experience digging swimming pools, shoveling came to mind. 

Anyone who has used a shovel in an even slightly serious way knows the joys of blistered palms and such, or the questionable grip possible while wearing most gloves. Weightlifting gloves, however, cushion the palm of the balancing hand, and the exposed fingers on the lifting hand add to the grip. They work quite well, and I have used them for everything around the house from using posthole diggers to shoveling gravel in the driveway and digging ditches. My wife (who appreciates all that work, even though it sounds much more extensive than it was) agreed with my logic, but had a laugh at my expense anyway.

Though she could appreciate my reasoning, she said that it reminded her of the fingerless gloves the character in all the movies based upon the works of Charles Dickens wore. This was especially true of the younger characters in Oliver Twist who would stick out their similarly gloved fingers and ask for “some more, please.” So, of course, I started calling them my “begging gloves” and would show her my recently emptied coffee cup and repeat that line. Don’t laugh — it worked far more often than I would have thought.

Now while you all (hopefully) are amused by the extremely unlikely event of a man wearing bejeweled pink weightlifting gloves while digging up a septic line, I should point out that the mechanics of this situation have many different applications. The same way tools that can be used for unforeseen positive applications, they can also be used for many that are less than positive. And unfortunately, many people are doing that every single day. There are many people who are using the very tools designed to help us in order to steal from us and worse.

The most recent scams involve vaccines and stimulus money. There are numerous emails floating around the web that ask us to “take a survey” or “you have been chosen for a trial,” and most of these are unfortunately fake. They are designed in many cases to deliver viruses and steal sensitive information. In most cases it is best to simply delete these questionable messages without even opening them. The rule of thumb is if it asks you to reply to something you never requested, it is probably something you don’t want to open. And if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

Then there are the emails which “suggest” we donate part of the stimulus check Americans are now receiving to help those less fortunate. The concept is solid and socially responsible except for one small thing; most of these donation sites never deliver as much as a single dime to anyone “less fortunate,” unless of course one counts the site itself as qualifying. Many of these sites look legitimate and reputable, but remember that even the pitiful street urchins from Dicken’s stories were taking what they begged for or stole to Fagin or his equivalent. 

It is a sad statement, but some people will use any means possible to take advantage of others. So, if you would like to take a survey, choose a reputable organization or hospital. They will definitely appreciate your time, but probably won’t enter you to win an Xbox. Sorry. And if you feel as though you can spare money from you stimulus check (or any check) to help those less fortunate, choose an established food bank of Community Kitchen. They will also appreciate it, but again, no raffle for a big screen television. Still, even without the outlandish promises, you will at least know your donation is going not only where you intended, but also to where it will actually do some good.

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